Exercise Program Design Tips

The FITT Principle

 

Frequency – The number of days you exercise.

Intensity – Your effort level.

Time – The amount of exercise completed.

Type – The action/exercise performed.

 

Organizing your fitness plan should help you achieve the best results as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible through steady progressions. 

 

There are 3 main components of a workout: 

1.  Cardiovascular Fitness (cardio)

2.  Strength/Resistance Training

3.  Flexibility/Mobility

 

Cardiovascular Exercise is defined as continuous or intervaled, rhythmic, activity that utilizes large muscle groups over a prolonged period of time.  This type of exercise strengthens the heart, lungs, and circulatory system, utilizes both fats and glycogen for energy, and can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, diabetes, and stroke.  More benefits are listed below.

FITT for Cardiovascular Fitness

Current Fitness Level

Frequency

Intensity

Time

Type

Beginner

2-4x/week

55-70% MHR*

10-20 minutes

Walk/bike

Intermediate

3-5x/week

60-80% MHR

20-30 minutes

Walk/jog/elliptical/bike/row

Experienced

3-5x/week

65-85% MHR

25-45 minutes

Walk/jog/run/elliptical/row

Advanced

4-6x/week

70-90% MHR

30-60 minutes

Jog/run/elliptical/row

 

 

 

*MHR = your age-predicted Maximum Heart Rate. 

220 – your age = MHR

For example, I am 30 years old and would classify my cardiovascular fitness level as “advanced.” Therefore, staying in my target heart rate zone means working hard enough to keep my heart rate between 133 beats per minute (which is 70% of 190, my age-predicted MHR) and 171 beats per minute (which is 90% of my age-predicted MHR) for 30-60 minutes.

 

~ Certain medications may alter heart rate. Please check with your physician and your personal trainer before beginning or changing an exercise routine.~

 

Recommended Progression Rate:

  • ·         Increase aerobic exercise time by 2-4 minutes each week until you reach your desired fitness level.
  • ·         A suggested cardio fitness goal is to be able to maintain 70% of your MHR for a continuous 45-60 minutes.
  • ·         To help prevent repetitive motion injuries, vary the exercise type. (Try the treadmill one day, a bicycle the next day, etc.)

 

Additional Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise:

  • ·         Improved heart and lung function
  • ·         Reduced body fat
  • ·         Improved self-esteem
  • ·         Increased energy
  • ·         Reduced risk of disease
  • ·         Increased endurance
  • ·         Improved sleep

 

For all workouts, remember to warm up before and cool down after exercise!

 

Warm-up:  Work at an easy to moderate intensity level for 3-10 minutes to…

  • Reduce risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Improve performance.
  • Increase range of motion.
  • Reduce soreness.

Cool Down: Allow your body to gradually recover from exercise to…

  • Allow the heart and circulatory system to adjust without causing blood to “pool.”
  • Reduce risk of abnormal heart beat, fainting, and dizziness.
  • Alleviate soreness.

 

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Resistance Training is required to increase muscle density, tone, and strength.  Your muscles (including your heart) will only be as strong as they need to be. Proper training gives your muscles a reason to adapt to new demands, preparing them for what you want them to be able to do or look like. Strong muscles help you maintain a well-balanced musculoskeletal system that is less likely to be injured or have postural problems. Lean muscle tissue is also a calorie scorcher, and therefore an essential component to weight management. More benefits are listed below.

 

FITT for Strength

Current Fitness Level

Frequency

Intensity

(Repetitions per Set)

Time

(Number of Total Sets)

Type

Beginner

2x/week

8-15*

8-12

Mainly Machines

Intermediate

2-3x/week

8-15

10-15

Machines and Free Weights

Experienced

2-4x/week

8-15

15-20

Machines, Free Weights, and/or  TRX

Advanced

3-6x/week

8-15

15-25

Mainly Free Weights, and/or  TRX

 

*The suggested repetition (rep) range tells you how “heavy” to set the resistance: General health guidelines state the resistance should be light enough that you can complete at least 8 repetitions through a full range of motion but too heavy to complete more than 15 in a row at a slow, controlled pace.

 

~ As with any part of an exercise program, individual considerations are paramount to success.  Please check with your physician and your personal trainer before beginning or changing an exercise routine.~

 

Recommended Progression Rate:

  • ·       When you can complete 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps, increase the resistance for that exercise by about 5%.
  • ·          Decrease rest time from 60 seconds to 30 seconds between sets, or alternate exercises between different muscle groups (so one muscle group is working while another is resting, leaving no real “down time” in your workout).
  • ·          Vary the tempo by making an exercise either explosive or by slowing it down (so each rep takes about 8 seconds) to confuse your muscles and force them to adapt/strengthen.
  • ·      To help prevent repetitive motion injuries and plateaus, vary the exercise type at least every 6 weeks (or more frequently if you prefer).

 

Additional Benefits of Resistance Exercise:

  • ·       Increased metabolism
  • ·          Improved strength and density of bones
  • ·          Improved body shape and appearance (Vanity is motivation for many of us!)
  • ·          Improved muscular endurance (How far do you have to carry how many bags of groceries??)
  • ·          Reduced risk of injury
  • ·          Increased energy
  • ·          Enhanced self-esteem
  • ·          Improved balance, coordination, and agility

 

Please remember to adjust machine settings to fit your height, ask for a spotter when needed, allow others to “work in” with you on equipment between sets,  and ALWAYS re-rack your weights.

 

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Flexibility Training is an integral part of any fitness program because you can only strengthen your body as much as you can move it.  If your range of motion (ROM) is limited, then your strength, function, and balance will be limited as well. Additional benefits are listed below.

 

FITT for Mobility

Frequency

Intensity

Time

Type

3-6x/week

Mild tension on the stretched muscle

20-60 seconds per set.

1-3 sets per muscle group.

Static*

 

Stretching should not be painful. If you feel more than mild discomfort, ease back a little until the pain decreases.

 

~ As with any part of an exercise program, individual considerations are paramount to success.  Please check with your physician and your personal trainer before beginning or changing an exercise routine.~

 

*Types of Stretching:

  • ·         Static stretching, or passively holding a muscle in a lengthened and relaxed position without bouncing, is the most common, easiest, and safest to perform type of flexibility training.
  • ·         Dynamic stretching, or actively moving a joint through a full ROM, can be a productive, athletic warm-up, but it can also be dangerous. Please schedule a mini-session with a personal trainer to learn proper technique.
  • ·         PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, can be done alone, but is generally preferred with a partner. PNF involves moving a joint to its end range of motion, then holding it there while simultaneously contracting the muscle being stretched for 7-10 seconds. Immediately move the joint further – to its new end point – and hold there for 20-30 seconds, then contract again.  Repeat this process 3-4 times. PNF provides the most significant, quickest increase in ROM, but it should be performed with professional supervision until you are comfortable with the technique.

 

Additional Benefits of Flexibility/Mobility Training:

  • ·       Decreased stress
  • ·          Reduced risk of injury
  • ·          Decreased common aches and pains
  • ·          Improved athletic performance and functional movements
  • ·          Improved sleep

 

Stretching can be done after a warm up and before exercise, but the most significant results usually occur when stretches are regularly performed at the end of each exercise session.

 

If you have any questions or would like to review your cardio program options, please email me or call 240-242-3053.  Fitness Consultations and Personal Training sessions are available to you!